Bill to make trading in Purple Heart Medals illegal proposed
In 2009, Zach Fike’s mother gave him for Christmas a Purple Heart Medal that she bought. It had belonged to the family of Corrado Piccoli who had been killed in action in France during World War II. Zach, now a major in the Vermont National Guard and a Purple Heart recipient himself was spurred to return the medal to the family. That led to the founding of Purple Hearts Reunited that returns found Purple Hearts and other medals to families.
Now, according to the Military Times, Republican Representative Paul Cook has introduced a bill that would make buying and selling Purple Heart Medals a Federal crime.
Republican Rep. Paul Cook introduced legislation last week which would make selling the medal punishable by fines and up to six months in prison. Online retailers price the military honors at several hundred dollars each, more if they can document who the original recipient was.
“These military collectors cheapen the Purple Heart by buying and selling this symbol of sacrifice like a pack of baseball cards,” said Cook, who served 26 years in the Marine Corps before joining Congress, rising to the rank of colonel and receiving two Purple Hearts for injuries sustained during the Vietnam War.
Cook’s bill would place the Purple Heart into a new protected category, keeping it away from not just con artists but also memorabilia collectors. Officials from the Military Order of the Purple Heart applauded the idea.
The medal is awarded for wounds or death caused by an armed enemy in combat, the Purple Heart is the oldest military award still given to U.S. military members, it predecessor was known as the Badge of Military Merit, and tracks it’s history to George Washington’s Continental Army.
The bill would not affect the sales of veterans selling their own medals, or their families selling one that they inherit, according to Cook.